Is improper fire safety stupidity or lack of knowledge? After you read this, you won’t have to worry about either.
Choose Your Site
Whether you’re at a developed campsite or out in the wilds boondocking, make sure your site is safe for containing your campfire.
Be sure you’re clear of:
- Dry grass
- Tree trunks
- Peat moss
- Overhanging branches/awning(s)
If there is a designated fire pit make sure you’re using it, build on level ground, and don’t build your fire near a water source.
Prepare Your Fire
We have tips on building a campfire here but the basics include:
- Shovel or spade
- Axe or hatchet
- Enough water to extinguish your fire
- Fire starter(s)
- Sufficient firewood and kindling
In backcountry areas or sites without a designated fire pit:
- Clear a circle of debris and hazards (about one meter in diameter)
- Dig or scrape down to mineral soil
- If you choose to surround your fire pit with stones or bricks, be sure they are fire designated as some rock/brick types can and will explode under high heat due to their porosity.
The Government of Alberta has this phrase for your campfire extinguishing needs: Soak. Stir. Soak.
First, let your fire burn down. Spread out the embers then add water or dry dirt and stir to reveal any still burning material.
Add more water and stir again, repeating as necessary, until there is no more smoke or steam and the campfire is cool to the touch. when it is fully out you should not feel any heat from the ashes.
Do not bury any fire remnants as any embers remaining can continue to smolder and start a wildfire.